Football shirt collecting is probably one of the most expensive hobbies in the world but it almost seems like an obsession with me now. With the prices of shirts on the rise with retail price of most shirts being around £40-£50 then you can work out for yourself that having a lot of them is going to cost a fair bit. In this article I will be talking about advantages, disadvantages and other factors to do with collecting.
Firstly I will talk about what got me into football shirt collecting. It was my first trip to Florida and whilst shopping I stumbled upon a shop selling a wide range of shirts. After spending about an hour in there looking at each one I decided that I wanted a large amount of the shirts but spending money meant I could not afford all these shirts. In the end I came out with a Chivas USA, La Galaxy and Turkey away shirt. But being about 15 at the time I could not fund a lot of shirts myself and then I got a weekend job. This then meant I could for once afford to buy these shirts and I looked on ebay one night buying St Etienne shirts for a decent price. It was then that I decided I want to be different to most people and own the shirts of unheard of countries such as the likes of Tuvalu, Lesotho, Malawi and in time I managed to get hold of these fantastic shirts. Now I constantly email football associations which often ends up with no luck and I spend quite a bit of time on ebay searching for Andorra, Mali football shirts and more as it has become an obsession of mine. Some nights I could spend a couple of hours searching and emailing people to get one reply saying "unfortunately we do not stock the shirts but will do at a later time". This later time never seems to arrive though.
With football shirt collecting having the money for them is a big deal. I often say to myself I will not buy a few shirts for a while and I'll go and see an Estonia shirt available on ebay and decide to spend £30 on it and everytime you do this you suddenly find out your bank balance is going down quite rapidly. Thankfully my savings account helps me out a few times. Although you find that it does cost a lot of money to fund this addiction you have to realise that the value of rare shirts often increase in time. A few of my shirts I have in my collection are on the retro side which people on ebay pay quite a bit for. For example I was given a shirt by my step dad which was the Scottish side of Hibernian. He said he bought it for £1.50 in the early 90's and whilst searching for shirts I saw the one I have go for £60 so in the long run you can be seen as getting a big profit which makes me think if I sold my collection how rich would I be?
There are a lot of different types of shirt collectors out there as well. Some people focus on one team and have loads of shirts from that one team, some collect match worn shirts and a few people I know are attempting to collect all 209 FIFA nations. I do not currently have a specific thing I want to collect like others, I often just see a shirt I like and buy it or if a really rare shirt like Guyana or some other team pops up then I usually buy the shirt. At the moment though I currently aim to own an Andorra, Faroe Islands, Niger, Equatorial Guinea and Mali shirt but although I have tried hard I cannot seem to source out any of these shirts. Football shirt collecting is quite time consuming at times but through doing it I have made quite a few new friends in different countries and you get to interract with people from all these different countries which I find good. But you have to be prepared that a lot of people you try do not reply back to emails. One in about twenty five people can be quite helpful though.
I've roughly been doing this for about two years now and will keep carrying it on as long as I have the money for it and often get people asking me what shirt I am wearing when buying something in a shop. My friends think I am crazy doing it but it just seems that it is humanly instinct that when you start a collection you just want to have as many as you possibly can and after reading this if you are thinking of trying to get a few more shirts then make sure you have the room to store them as mine are quickly filling up my wardrobe and space is becoming hard to find. A lot of shirts out there do look nice though and I would suggest looking on ebay to start you off with a few shirts but you can soon be dragged into it like I did and before you know it you have spent a fair bit of money on a load of shirts.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about my obsession with football shirt collecting and for anyone who is interested my collection can be seen at my blog.